As part of the Audubon of the Western Everglades’ Owl Watch program, the Coastal Breeze News has adopted a burrowing owl!
The Audubon of the Western Everglades mission is to research and protect burrowing owls, a threatened species native to Florida. On Marco Island the organization employs over 40 volunteers who are tasked with monitoring all 240+ burrowing owl sites.
Researchers from the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are working with locals in order to color band burrowing owls on Marco Island. Under the supervision of Dr. Raoul Boughton, the banded owls will be studied to determine their nesting activities, survival, and movements over time. According to the organization, the color bands also allow researchers and volunteers to keep track of individual owls from year to year.
The Audubon of the Western Everglades and UF/IFAS have partnered on an Adopt an Owl program in order to support the research. The program allows the public to symbolically adopt a color-banded burrowing owl. Adopters can choose from a list of four different adoption plans. However, all sponsors will receive an adoption certificate with a photo of their owl as well as detailed information about his/her activities during nesting season. The adoption is good for one year with the possibility to renew. Corporate sponsorships are also available.
The Coastal Breeze News has decided to name our adopted owl “Piper’s News” in honor of Piper Suit, a 10-year-old girl living with cystic fibrosis. Piper’s father Travis created an endurance paddleboard challenge, Crossing for a Cure, in order to raise money for families living with the disease. In June, Marco Island Police Officer Josh Ferris will paddle over 75 miles from the Bahamas to Dania Beach, Florida as part of this event. Learn more about Piper’s story on our website www.coastalbreezenews.com. For more information on Crossing for a Cure visit www.crossingforacure.com.
The Coastal Breeze News’ adopted owl, Piper’s News, was banded in May 2017 at a burrow on Marco Island. According to Allison Smith, a graduate student from the University of Florida, Piper’s News had a mate and young chicks. Unfortunately, Piper’s News’ burrow was flooded after a series of torrential downpours that hit the island. Her mate disappeared and researchers were unable to determine the fate of her owlets.
For about a year, Piper’s News’ whereabouts were unknown. However, she was recently rediscovered at a new burrow about a mile away from her previous. It seems Piper’s News has a new mate and has likely laid eggs.
“She and her new mate are fiercely guarding their burrow, so I suspect she is laying eggs and should have chicks soon,” Smith said. “The lot she is on now is conveniently one of my study sites, so I will be banding her mate and chicks later this season.”
The Adopt an Owl program is a unique way to support the area’s native species that reside in our own backyards. The Coastal Breeze News will receive updates on Piper’s News’ progress throughout the year.
If you would like to adopt a Marco Island burrowing owl please visit https://audubon-of-the-western-everglades.networkforgood.com/projects/48771-adopt-an-owl